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Ancient Mosaic Quiz: Answers

So how did you get on with the ancient mosaic quiz, 2015? Did you find all the answers? Did you rattle them off, scratch your head, or scour the internet? Some were easy, some a little more challenging – I wanted to really push those ancient mosaic brain cells to their limit! So now let’s see how well you did…Here are the ancient mosaic quiz questions in italics and the mosaic quiz answers highlighted in bold:

  1. What is this?
  • a) a precusor of Galla Placidia’s Mausoleum in Ravenna?
  • b) a detail of a leprosy victim?
  • c) A leopard’s spots?

c) A leopards’s spots.

mosaic quiz answers
Leopard devours its prey, Delphi, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

2. Big bushy beard, droopy eyebrows and a resigned expression after wearing a synthetic fibre costume for too long in the toy department; looks like Father Christmas, but is really which ancient god?

The god with the bushy beard is Oceanus, the River God. 

ancient mosaic quiz answers
Oceanus, River God. El Jem Museum, Tunisia. Photo:

3. How many ancient versions are there of the Unswept Floor Mosaic?

The answer is: four. They can be found at a) The Vatican Museum, Rome b) Aquileia, Italy c) Chateau de Boudry, Switzerland d) The Bardo Museum, Tunisia.

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Unswept floor mosaic, Bardo Museum, Tunisia. Photo: Claire Murphy, Flickr.

4. Where would you find a rare Roman mosaic depiction of a giraffe?

The depiction of a giraffe can be seen in the Lod Mosaic, Israel. 

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Giraffe in the centre of the Lod Mosaic. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

5. Which series of ancient mosaics were saved at the last minute before flood waters engulfed them?

The Zeugma Mosaics were threatened by a dam across the Euphrates and are now housed in Gazientep, Turkey.

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A mosaic panel, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, Turkey. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

6. Name these three common mosaic patterns:

a) Tumbling blocks

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Tumbling blocks detail, Palazzo Massimo Museum, Rome. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

b) Double strand guilloche

mosaic quiz answers
Lod Mosaic, border detai. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics
 c) Wave pattern
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Lod Mosaic, border detail. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

7. The mosaic panel below belongs to a series from Qasr Libya which also includes an image of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Which one?

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world shown in the Qasr Libya series is the lighthouse of Alexandria. 

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Alexanderia lighthouse, Qasr Libya. Photo:

8. Where would you find the woman referred to as the Mona Lisa of ancient mosaics?

The ‘Mona Lisa’ of Galilee (below) is part of a 4th century Roman mosaic floor is found in Sepphoris in the central Galilee region of modern day Israel.  

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‘Mona Lisa’, City of Sepphoris, ancient Palestine.

9. Here’s a horse wearing a stripey jumper. Where would you see a real ancient mosaic zebra being led by a black man?

The real zebra being led by a black man is from Shanliurfa (ancient Edessa) in Eastern Turkey.

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Man leading zebra. Shanliurfa, Turkey. Photo: Pasqale Sorrentino,

 10. Ships, grain merchants and possibly a man with a toothache – what do they have in common?

Mosaics of all these things including a man pointing into his open mouth can be found at the ancient port of Ostia Antica. 

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Ship detail, Ostia Antica, Italy. Photo:

11. Not ketchup and not mayonnaise. What popular sauce is depicted in mosaic form in Pompeii?

The sauce is garum, a fermented fish sauce. 

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Garum sauce mosaic, Pompeii.

12.An estimated 80 million pieces covering 250 square metres make up which imperial palace?

The Great Palace of Constantinople built in the time of the Emperor Justinian I in what is now Istanbul’s Great Palace Mosaic Museum.

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Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Istanbul. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

 13. A cold bottom and a cool kiss. Which ancient mosaic does this refer to?

This refers to the mosaic of Aeneas and Dido at the Low Ham Roman Villa, Somerset, UK. 

Low Ham mosaic, Somerset, UK. Photo:

14. A resplendently naked Alexander the Great is rendered in pebbles in Pella, Greece, astride which wild beast a) a leopard b) a lion c) a cheetah?

Alexander the Great is riding a cheetah. 

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Alexander riding a cheetah, Pella, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

15. There are lots of ancient mosaics of hunting dogs but where would you see one incorporated in an agricultural scene? 

The dog in an agricultural scene is this one in the Bardo Museum, Tunisia, looking on as it’s master works in the fields. 

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Bardo Museum, Tunisia. Tethered dog and worker.

16. The Romans were keen on killing wild animals. Lions, tigers, boar, hare and bears are all commonly depicted in ancient mosaics but where would you see a pride of  ostriches in the arena?

The mosaic of ostriches in the arena can be seen in the Bardo Museum, Tunisia. 

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Ostriches in the arena. Bardo Museum, Tunisia. Photo:

17. An unlikely pairing. A man believed to be Alexander the Great meets whom on the floor of an Israeli synagogue?

Alexander the Great meets the Jewish High Priest of Jerusalem in the 5th century synagogue mosaic in Huqoq, Israel.  

Alexander the Great, Huqoq. Jim Haberman.
A presumed Alexander the Great in Huqoq, Israel. Photo: Jim Haberman.

18. It’s well known that one wouldn’t want to cross the Gods, but which mosaic diety is already cross eyed?

The cross eyed diety is the 2nd century Genius of the Year, National Archeological Museum, Madrid. 

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Cross-eyed diety, Madrid Archeological Museum. Photo: Rafael_dp on Flickr.

19.Which ancient city which was once thought to be the centre of the world is shown in Jordan’s map of Madaba?

The ancient city depicted in the map of Madaba is Jerusalem.

mosaic quiz answers
Map of Madaba, Jordan.

20. Close ups. Can you identify these famous ancient mosaics from these details?

The close ups are of: a) Frog on a lily pad, Nilotic mosaic, Naples Archeological Museum, italy. 

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Frog on a lily pad, Naples Archeological Museum. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

b) The large fish in the Lod mosaic, Israel. 

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Large fish, Lod Mosaic. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

c) The God Pan, Palazzo Massimo Museum, Rome, Italy. 

mosaic quiz answers
Pan God, Palazzo Massimo Museum, Rome. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

And the bonus question…

FIND and identify an ancient mosaic which features a bird (perhaps even a partridge) next to (but not in) a pear tree.

Did you find it? This is the mosaic but however hard I hunt I cant seem to find where it’s from. Please help!


Coming soon: The Use of Glass in Ancient Mosaics


  1. Wonderful! Please ask your mother to make the Tumbling Blocks into a blanket. It would be stupendous, something better than I have seen on Ravelry. You could help her with the graph if she needed help time wise (know she is busy taking care of your dad) and then she could knit it in the new KD yarns. Well, I might even graph it out myself and email it to Jean to see what she thinks.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I love the Tumbling Blocks design. My mother made a wonderful Kaffe Fassett Tumbling Blocks jumper a while ago for my husband. I can send you a photo but weirdly when I mentioned it recently she’d forgotten all about it so maybe it is time to make a blanket. It would be stunning.

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